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Archive for December, 2005

Friday, December 30th 2005

Caffeine & Memory

This probably helped me, at least a little this semester. God bless you Red Bull.

But, while helping memory in short supply, 137 cans in a row of the caffeine in that stuff would kill me.

Thursday, December 29th 2005

Funny but Off-Topic Once Again

“Actually, I don’t have a problem with all five of [the Detroit Piston's starters] being All-Stars…because it is clear to me that the fans don’t have a clue. 403,000 people voted for Raef Lafrentz…100,000 people voted for Chris Mihm…”
– Charles Barkley

Sir Charles is actually intelligent and damn funny.

Thursday, December 29th 2005

Hwang Woo Suk's Betrayal

Disappointing. Nothing else needs to be said about this.

The journal Science said it will retract a stem cell study it ran in May from South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk if the study’s co-authors don’t retract the paper by tomorrow on their own.

Thursday, December 29th 2005

Breast Cancer Hope

A UK drug, Femara, already being used to reduce tumor size before surgeries is shown in a new English study to reduce the chances of breast cancer recurrence by a third over five years. That actually does sound pretty impressive.

More on Femara in the US.

Thursday, December 29th 2005

An HIV Vaccine Killed By Costs…

An NIH exec is claiming the private sector will never develop an HIV vaccine since such would be of little commercial value.

As Asymmetrical Information says:

An AIDS vaccine would eliminate the value of retroviral therapies. Since those are expensive now, an AIDS vaccine would only be worthwhile to develop if it could be priced high — say $100,000 a pop…[b]ut Merck, or whichever poor schlub actually invested the damn thing could not charge Africa, or anyone, $100,000 for a dose of AIDS vaccine. Public opinion would force them to give it away for free, or for a very low price.

Personally I lean very much towards AI’s reasoning on this situation. You can read a little bit more, and where I found Asymmetrical Information’s post, at In The Pipeline.

Maybe the answer is for the world’s wealthy nations to guarantee to pay a “reasonable” (or unreasonable but profitable) price for an HIV vaccine to be used in the third world. Unless of course the national health organizations of the west truly believe they can develop an HIV vaccine on their own without major help from private industry.

Then again, as can be expected, I don’t think the government should be funding this anyway. Or funding sending a future vaccine to hard hit countries. Step up charity; and it can work that way.

Thursday, December 29th 2005

The World is More Secure?

Slate links to an article which misinterprets the world situation once again. Chatterbox seems to have an issue in assuming cause and effect relationships. Then again, I do sometimes as well. But here they’ve screwed up again.

“Just about every geopolitical argument put forth since 9/11 has taken as its starting point that the world has become a more violent place.”
While the world as a whole may be safer if we take Mack’s arguments as is, the west may be much more in harm’s way today than it was in 1992. Mack’s op/ed doesn’t address, as I can see, the distribution of weapons or several other notable issues. For instance, it is not only arguable, but likely, that the world’s nuclear weapons are less secure today than 13 years ago.
When the west refers to the world as a more violent or less secure place, they obviously are solely concerned with the west’s security and that may well be less than it was in 1992. In the case of nuclear weapons, this is an issue that affects the west’s security far more than the third world’s.
Finally, I’m unsure about the causality Slate and Mack assume between policy and this belief in increased violence.
In many cases, a growing risk aversion and a growing intolerance for the world’s violence, not necessarily a belief that the world is actually MORE violent, is fueling policy. The end result for policy decisions is the same.
Why do I, as an American, care how violent the world is before 9/11? But after that fateful day, any perceived instability throughout the world is a larger threat to me, even if the level of that instability and violence is actually decreasing. That change in viewpoint may actually be accurate, certainly Mack’s op/ed has nothing to say about it.
Saturday, December 24th 2005

What Can You Say…

Unprofessional medical students are more likely to make unprofessional medical doctors. Well, duh, kind’ve.

But as examples used in a post at MedPundit illustrate, a lot of this goes deeper. There’s evidence in the NEJM published study that the problem students lack empathy for patients or respect for authority figures. This is nothing that can be cured while in medical school.

I believe training in professionalism is a good thing for medical students but in many cases an attitude that was twenty years in the making, I don’t think, can be undone in four. The answer, if this is a major problem, which I’m not even sure the study shows it is, is to focus on medical student recruitment – making attitude and empathy, at the expense of grades and MCAT scores, a bigger part of the medical school admissions process.

You can check out Over My Med Body’s irked response (which I agree with) to MedPundit’s original post.

Thursday, December 22nd 2005


Did doctors in New Orleans take to euthanizing patients?

This story really doesn’t make it out to be an ethical dilemma the hospital was dealing with it. It sounds like the staff was just getting lazy but under such a situation that may not be giving these people enough credit.

Despite what may appear, from the article, as a cut and dry ethical situation I’m not sure my ethics class in medical school did one iota to make me better situated to handle a situation like the one they faced in the aftermath of Katrina. Either, by the time you get here, you have a compass of what to do…or you don’t.

Maybe the focus needs to be on doing a better job of trying to fish out who has such a compass during the admissions process for medical school rather than trying to instill it in students once they get here.

Sunday, December 18th 2005

Bug Evolution

I’m not a Doonesbury fan but…

Saturday, December 17th 2005

Ball Steal

I’m making a dedication to try to keep this blog on subject and off sports (Spurs, Trojans, Cowboys, Saints, Astros) but this is pretty funny:

Brett Farve gets the ball taken from him by Cincinnati Bengals fan.